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Viral respiratory infections are one of the most common health problem in horses throughout the world (Traub-Dargatz and others 1991). Equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1), equine herpesvirus-4 (EHV-4) and equine influenza virus (EIV) are among the most common viruses associated with infectious upper respiratory tract disease (IURD) (Mumford and others 1998, Morley and others 2000, Mumford and others 2003, Pusterla and others 2005, Yactor and others 2006). These infections are often self-limiting and not life threatening, except in extreme cases. However, athletic horses generally have an increased risk of becoming infected, and disease associated with these infections has greater consequences for both the horse and owner/trainer because of the effect of disease on athletic capacity and ability to compete successfully (Mumford and Rossdale 1980). Horses with IURD generally develop similar clinical signs regardless of which primary or secondary agents are causing clinical disease. Disease is most frequently typified by the occurrence of fever, mucopurulent nasal discharge and coughing (Morley 1995, Dynon and others 2007, Diaz-Mendez and others 2010, Pusterla and others 2011). Despite intensive investigative efforts, veterinarians frequently diagnose clinical IURD without identifying a primary etiologic agent. Potential pathogens were not identified in 25–74 per cent equids with suspected IURD (Powell and others 1978, Burrows and others 1982, Ostlund and others 1991, Dynon and others 2007, Diaz-Mendez and others 2010, Pusterla and others 2011). The lack of aetiological diagnosis for some IURD cases observed in these investigations is at least partially attributable to concentrating diagnostic efforts on identifying infection with agents that most frequently cause disease. It is likely that more comprehensive diagnostic efforts would identify agents in affected animals that tend to cause either less dramatic outbreaks or sporadic rather than epidemic disease (eg, γ herpesviruses, equine rhinitis viruses, equine adenoviruses). The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency …
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